Troll Bridge

This is a commissioned piece that the client has kindly allowed me to share. I did a pencil sketch like this years ago, probably about a year after I started drawing again, and although I liked it at the time it now looks incredibly naïve. I also like how the troll has crammed itself under the bridge, which makes me wonder if trolls are like hermit crabs; do they move to ever larger bridges as they grow in size? Someone should look into this I think.

Cheers

Matt

Redo

After finishing the spread yesterday (bottom picture) and looking at it again this morning I couldn’t help but notice a few things that needed changing, so I’ve faffed about all day redoing the piece (top picture). Here’s what was wrong;

Firstly, Freyja’s right arm is massive! Look at the size of that monster! So I rescaled it so she would look more human.

Second, another Freyja issue was her features. The eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth just seemed a bit odd and not quite in perspective, so again I corrected this and added white to the eyes.

Third was the trees. They seemed to lack any real texture and seemed a tad desaturated, so I found some old ink markings I made a while ago and applied those to combat the issue.

Fourth. Character shadows and highlights. I was going to avoid adding either of these but thought I’d add some bounce light from the snow and a bit of ambient occlusion. The problem is it looks a bit airbrushed now, so I might have to make another tweak.

Fifth. The writing was huge! I get that it’s a kids book so the text is meant to be big, but Christ! Resized it. Looks better.

I also changed the colour of the birds. This wasn’t really a problem, I just wanted to see what they’d look like white, and they certainly blend less with Thor. Added some icicles as well just for good measure.

If I’m honest I’m not over the moon with this spread. I think the main issue is that I find square compositions tricky to illustrate. I’ve noticed that many illustrators, when working with square compositions, either break the page up into two or three separate illustrations or they make the main focal point dead centre, so this is something I will bear in mind going forward.

Cheers

Matt

Tracks!

Single page spread. Even though this is only a single page spread it took significantly longer to complete, mainly because it’s a little more refined than the previous spread and I also flip flopped on the design somewhat. I really like the environment in this one and I do rather enjoy illustrating trees, I think it must be good for your mental health or something. Again the text isn’t particularly well thought out, as it is merely saying what you can already see, but without the rest of the story it seems pointless adding exposition.

Cheers

Matt

Reading Light

I’m attempting to transition the new style I’ve been using into some character work. This piece is somewhat influenced by Riccardo Guasco, an Italian artist who lives in Wales; “he researches the lightness of form and color of the heat and he does it with a few colors and simple lines. He loves old posters of the 30s, Picasso, Depero, Feininger, Russian suprematism, cubism and heroic cycling of old times.” – https://www.clermont-filmfest.org/en/the-international-jury-welcomes-great-painter-riccardo-guasco/ – I’ve only just discovered this guy and I’m blown away by his skill, his work output is prolific as well.

The cubed style of the illustration above reminds me of the old Hanna Barbera cartoons that I watched so much as a kid, and is perhaps why it fills me with nostalgia. Who didn’t love The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Top Cat, and Yogi Bear?

Noir

Started today with a two hour photo study before cracking on with some work. This was a pretty straight forward study to complete, very few details, simple values etc… and is based upon a photo taken in Valencia. If I can i’ll try to do a study every day but I’m getting more and more freelance work (which is good), so you’ll have to forgive me if can’t deliver on this. I’m also considering doing some ink illustrations – probably in the same vein as the image above – because people keep asking me for originals, which I can’t provide because the majority of my work is created digitally, so expect an update on those soon.

A Break from the Norm

This is a study piece completed in the same vein as the great concept artist Ian McQue (he followed me on Instagram by the way – mad, I know!), and done in preparation for some paid work I’ve got on. The ink drawings on the right are quick 10 minute sketches that I meshed together to create the digital piece on the left. I worked very loosely with this one, using only seven or so layers in Photoshop, which is a break from the norm because I usually use about 80. I’m just dipping my toe into this style of work because it’s nice to try something a little different every now and then as it inspires growth. Anyway, hope you like it, and maybe i’ll do some more of these. Cheers!

P.s. I’ve just this second noticed that the houses remind me of David Winter Cottages. For those of you not familiar with DWC, they are small clay(?) sculptures of cottages and villages scenes that were very popular with geriatric men who wanted to pretend they were Lemuel Gulliver from Gulliver’s Travels.

Ice to Meet You

This was a fun one to do. The previous illustration I posted felt like it was missing something and I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. I was originally going to have a large troll (this is set in Norway after all) standing just to the left hand side of the house with his nads out, totally oblivious. I messed around and decided to make it a snow scene and it seemed natural to have something huge frozen in the ice. I might do another two of these “frozen dinosaur” scenes just to make a trilogy. Stay tuned.

Capturing the Essence

This is one of those rare occurrences where I actually like a piece I’ve made. I focused on simplifying and abstracting a lot of elements here because I often get into the habit of adding too much realism and detail. There’s nothing wrong with realism and detail, but a piece that should take a couple of hours can end up taking a whole day to complete and be none the better for it. The focus should be on capturing the essence of an object and allowing the viewer to complete the illustration with their own details, rather than making the piece so realistic that there is no room for interpretation. If you look at the backgrounds of popular animated shows like The Flintstones, Samurai Jack, and Scooby Doo, you don’t see a renaissance painting, you see abstract and simplified shapes.

Anyway, above is based on a place in Norway called Hamnoy. Enjoy!